To the beach

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San Rafael Waterfall

San Rafael Waterfall

February 2 – 9:

Soaking in the thermal baths at Papallacta

Soaking in one of the thermal baths at Papallacta

Instead of taking the long eight hour bus ride back to Quito from the Amazon, we opted for stopping and smelling the flowers en route – in this case that meant viewing Ecuador’s largest waterfall (San Rafael) and soaking in the country’s most famous thermal springs high up in the mountains (Papallacta).  Both were worth the stop.

Next it was onto the beach – La Libertad/Salinas – called the Miami Beach of Ecuador except much smaller and cheaper.  We arrived during Carnival as did, it seemed, half of Ecuador.  We had never seen so many people packed onto a beach – hard to even find a place to sit that first afternoon.  Lucky for us we did not have to go back to work as did the crowds, so a couple of days later the beach was pleasantly quiet.

After Carnival

After Carnival

Chipipe during Carnival

During Carnival

So, the beach is the beach, right?  Sun, surf, sand…well, here is what we think makes the Ecuadorian beaches we visited a little different.

The tent and chairs we rented for the day - vendors passed continuously - one even braided Rachel's hair!

Vendors passed continuously – one even braided Rae’s hair!

Dulce vida - fresh coconut water on the beach.

Dulce vida – fresh coconut water on the beach.

Vendors:  whatever we wanted was sold on the beach.  Tent and chairs? – We just rented it. Food – of course, and it was plentiful, cheap and varied.  We did not need to take anything with us apart from bathing suits and towels.  Hair braiding – Rachel liked that one.  Boats, jet skis, kayaks, clothes, jewelry, beer, water, coconut water, and the list goes on!

View of Olon - a beautiful stretch of unspoilt beach.

View of Olon – a beautiful stretch of unspoilt beach.

Beautiful beaches:  What struck us about the three beaches we swam at (Chipipe, Ayangue, Olon) was the clear blue water, perfect temperature, and the white soft sand.  Just north of Salinas, the beaches went on for miles, undeveloped and, after Carnival, were pleasantly deserted.

Spraying foam and throwing water are Carnival traditions - Alex and Rae enjoyed it!

Spraying foam and throwing water are Carnival traditions – Alex and Rae enjoyed it!

Getting sick:  We appreciate even more the fact that we can drink the water in Cuenca from the tap – not true anywhere else.  From bug bites to digestive problems…we had it all.  While that ceviche and seafood and beach food tasted so good going down, we paid a steep price later on!  Bug bites, hard bunk beds, diarrhea and the heat in our hostel became insufferable so Wayne went hunting for a more comfortable place to stay. A block from our original hostel, he found a hotel with air conditioning, good beds, TV – we all agreed that was the best upgrade ever!

IMG_2700Ruta del Sol:  A relatively newly paved road that goes up the coast with views of beaches all along the way.  We stopped at a few beaches and also had lunch in Montanita, famous for its hippie, surf, party vibe.  We might have gotten there too early to see it in full swing, but we got the idea and decided we might have enjoyed it more twenty or thirty years ago.

Swimming while we wait for a pizza - the kids' favorite part of Montanita.

Swimming while we wait for a pizza – the kids’ favorite part of Montanita.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “To the beach

  1. Holly

    These photos are incredible! I want to sit in that thermal bath!

  2. Larry

    It’s so much fun to read your stories and see your pictures. Thinking of your return we have a new name in Rae and both sister and brother having grown up (I bet) even more than the pictures show. Larry

    • Well, I must say I have always liked the name Rae, but Rachel is most often using Raquel during her time here! I use Rae so that the captions are shorter…purely more efficient. Who knows maybe Rae will stick or Raquel for that matter! Yes, the kids are growing literally and figuratively at a rapid pace – makes you stop and savor each day!

  3. Colleen

    Unbelievable! What beautiful places and amazing adventures (truly memorable all around, eh?). I can’t believe how crowded that beach looked during Carnival – reminds me of Italian beaches. Thanks for sharing and love to all 🙂

  4. David Von Kohorn

    that thermal springs looks so good; so do rachel’s braids! rae…okay we’ll try to get used to that! — hugs to all, david, lisa & zoë

  5. Megan

    Love the braids!!!

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